enough to share), 12 entrées and seven desserts was loaded with winners. Excellent
tuna tartare on avocado purée, with watercress salad and julienned Granny Smith apples in a miso ginger vinaigrette, delivered
a lot of pleasure for $13. Asian calamari salad with baby arugula, red cabbage, hearts
of palm, summer squash, toasted almonds
and grilled pineapple in a spicy sesame-or-ange dressing was wittily presented, spilling cornucopia-like from a paper takeout
box turned on its side. Somehow the riot
of flavors, colors and textures hit the spot.
Bland Caesar salad and a market salad ballasted with dryish pucks of goat cheese
were not so compelling.
On the other hand, a smoked Berkshire
pork loin had it all. Given a nice char and
served with egg-noodle mac ’n‘ cheese,
braised red cabbage, bacon and a dollop
of apricot mostarda, it was smoky, tangy,
spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy.
Equally good (and astonishing at just $25)
was a tender, beefy, 16-ounce T-bone with
chimichurri-whipped potatoes and a watercress salad.
A fine roasted salmon filet crusted with
sesame seeds and lemony Middle Eastern
ground sumac and served with crisp snap
peas and carrots was lighter, yet still rich
and satisfying. One of the few misses—
unaccountably bland house-made pa-pardelle with sweet sausage, Swiss chard
and garbanzos—was put to shame by a
special of fusilli Bolognese.
Desserts were worth indulging in,
from roasted pineapple with house-made gelato, pistachios and vanilla sauce
to pitch-perfect crème brûlée and Villani’s family-recipe tiramisu.
So let’s see. Excellent food? Check. Attractive dining room? Check. Reasonable
prices? Check. Warm welcome? Any welcome? Well-organized staff? Valet parking
as promised? Kind of tails off there. Still,
my guests said that, all things considered,
they wouldn’t rule out going back on their
own. Nor would I.—PAT TANNER
“So much more than just having dinner out!”
800• 55•NEROS NEROS.COM
An American Steakhouse with an Italian Accent
618 So. Livingston Avenue, Livingston, NJ • ( 5 min. from The Short Hills Mall)
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